The United States has one of the biggest incarcerated populations in the world – roughly 1.9 million – but the number of Americans on probation or parole is nearly twice that at 3.7 million.

A new ‘Punishment Beyond Prisons’ report from the Prison Policy Initiative, shared with the Indiana Capital Chronicle, details probation and parole populations on a state level, with Indiana outpacing its peers and driving up the number of Hoosiers involved in the criminal legal system.

Roughly 49,000 Hoosiers are behind bars, with slightly more than half of those in state prisons at 25,000. Another 19,000, or 39%, are in local jails. The rest are mostly in federal prison.

But those numbers pale in comparison to the number of Hoosiers on probation: 96,000. An additional 5,500 Hoosiers are on parole, which is a form of supervised release after serving prison time.

Indiana relies heavily on probation in its criminal justice system, according to a new report. (Chart from the Prison Policy Initiative)In contrast, probation is a sentence used in place of incarceration and allows qualifying individuals to stay in their communities by meeting certain criteria. This can include regular meetings with a probation officer, wearing an electronic monitor, paying fines or fees and attending specialized programming.

“In theory, probation and parole are important tools that can reduce the number of people in prison and jail, where conditions are often dangerous,” the report said. “However, community supervision too often sets people up to fail, with incredibly high stakes.”

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